Michele Caruana is a former corporate marketer turned entrepreneur who specializes in helping people create indoor play spaces as physical brick-and-mortar businesses.
With a background in business and economics, Michele opened two indoor playground locations and operated them for almost six years before selling them. She now dedicates herself full-time to sharing her knowledge and experience through her course, Play Cafe Academy, and her YouTube channel and podcast, The Profitable Play Podcast.
In this conversation, Michele shares her journey from the corporate world to becoming a successful business owner in the indoor playground industry.
She discusses the differences between physical and online businesses, highlighting the challenges and rewards of each. She emphasizes the importance of making informed decisions when starting a brick-and-mortar business and offers valuable insights into funding, location selection, and team management.
She also addresses the common misconceptions teachers have when transitioning into the business world and provides practical advice for aspiring entrepreneurs!
- (02:45) Transitioning from a corporate job to opening a brick and mortar
- (05:25) Lack of information and support in the play cafe industry
- (09:00) Challenges of running a brick and mortar business
- (15:30) Comparing the cost of running a physical business vs. an online business
- (21:35) Benefits of starting small and avoiding financial devastation
- (30:30) The appeal of the indoor playground industry to teachers
- (35:45) The misconception that indoor playground owners spend most of their time with kids
- (41:20) Asking for help and hiring experts
Rate, Review, & Follow on Apple Podcasts
If you love what you’re learning from the Teacher Biz Podcast, please take a minute to rate and review the show. This will help more teachers – just like you – bring their dream business to life. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!
And be sure to follow the show so you don’t miss out on all the great episodes that will be coming your way soon!
Embracing Brick-and-Mortar Business: Tips for Teachers Entering the Industry
The transition from teaching to entrepreneurship can be an exhilarating yet intimidating journey. For those considering embarking on this path, especially in the indoor playground industry, there’s a lot to consider.
In this interview, we’ll explore the unique challenges and opportunities faced by teachers entering the indoor playground business.
Michele Caruana, a seasoned entrepreneur in the industry, will delve into the realities, expectations, and valuable lessons for teachers venturing into the realm of brick-and-mortar businesses.
Understanding the Indoor Playground Industry
The indoor playground industry, although whimsical and captivating, comes with its own set of challenges.
Those transitioning from the educational field may find themselves in uncharted territory when faced with the operational complexities of running a physical play space.
Michele Caruana’s journey from teacher to successful play cafe owner highlights the industry’s intricacies, and she encourages teachers to approach this transition with a blend of passion and preparedness.
Misconceptions and Realities of Transitioning Business Ownership
One of the key takeaways from this interview is the contrast between the romanticized vision of running an indoor playground and the stark realities teachers might encounter.
It’s important to address misconceptions about the industry, such as underestimating administrative tasks, financial management, team leadership, and navigating parent interactions.
Understanding that the business aspects of an indoor playground extend beyond the joy of children at play is vital for a successful transition.
Transitioning with Caution: Lessons from Michele’s Experience
Michele Caruana’s experiences and candid insights offer valuable lessons for teachers considering the leap into entrepreneurship.
She emphasizes the unyielding nature of early decisions in brick-and-mortar businesses and highlights the necessity of creating a strong, local support system. Her journey underscores the importance of focusing on strengths, seeking expertise, and being open to learning from successful industry peers.
The far-reaching impact of a brick-and-mortar business on the local community and family involvement is a key consideration for potential entrepreneurs.
The Flexibility of Online Business vs. the Impact of a Physical Presence
One perk of online business is the flexibility it allows in contrast to a brick-and-mortar business.
Michele candidly shares her experiences, comparing the flexibility of online businesses with the profound, irreplaceable impact of a physical play space on the community.
This comparison underscores the need for understanding the unique value and challenges associated with brick-and-mortar businesses – a valuable perspective for teachers seeking to make a meaningful impact through their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Avoiding the Perils of Perfectionism
Perfectionism can be a stumbling block for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those transitioning from teaching.
Michele counsels listeners to avoid letting perfectionism hold back their progress and focus on providing value over aesthetics. Embracing imperfection and learning from mistakes is vital in the dynamic world of business.
The Transformational Impact of a Brick and Mortar Business
Michele Caruana’s emphasis on the irreplaceable impact of a physical play space on the community and families cannot be overstated.
For teachers seeking to transition into this industry, recognizing the transformative power of a brick-and-mortar business can be a catalyst for their decision-making.
The idea of creating a positive influence on children outside the conventional classroom setting resonates deeply with many educators looking to make a difference in the lives of young learners.
Guidance and Support for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Acquiring the necessary guidance and support is crucial for teachers venturing into entrepreneurship.
Michele Caruana has created Play Cafe Academy and her forthcoming class to provide tailored support for those transitioning from teaching to an entrepreneurial journey in the indoor playground industry.
The Journey Ahead
As teachers explore the possibility of transitioning from education to entrepreneurship, it’s imperative to acknowledge the unique challenges and transformative potential of the indoor playground industry.
The stories and insights shared by Michele Caruana serve as a compass, offering valuable guidance for teachers on this journey. Understanding the industry’s realities, avoiding the pitfalls of perfectionism, and seeking support are essential steps for a successful transition.
Ultimately, this shift offers the promise of positively impacting children and families in an unconventional yet deeply rewarding manner.
The indoor playground industry, with its unique blend of magic and operational intricacies, presents a compelling opportunity for educators seeking to make a meaningful impact beyond the traditional classroom.
By embracing the insights, lessons, and guidance shared by seasoned entrepreneurs like Michele Caruana, teachers can embark on this transformative journey with newfound clarity and confidence.
As the educational landscape continues to evolve, the prospect of teachers venturing into the entrepreneurial realm promises an exciting intersection of creativity, impact, and community enrichment.